The All India Students’ Association on Tuesday claimed that the Delhi Police had seized the mobile phone of its state unit president Kawalpreet Kaur on the previous day. In a statement, the AISA claimed that the police had visited Kaur’s house and seized her phone “in the name of inquiry into the Delhi communal violence”.
“The seizure memo given to her cites an FIR with a slew of charges including the draconian UAPA [Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act] – a supposed anti-terror law that is basically an excuse to lock up students and activists who are critical of the government – without trial, without bail – and throw away the key,” the association’s National President N Sai Balaji said in the statement.
Kaur also took to Twitter to note that her phone was seized and highlighted her work. “Delhi Police action of seizing my phone is outrageous and is an attempt to instill fear among us all,” she tweeted. “Worse that all this is happening in a time when the entire world is in lockdown faced with a pandemic and it’s difficult to hold mass protests and access legal help.”
The police have made a series of arrests related to the violence in North East Delhi in February and invoked the UAPA against some. On Sunday, the president of Jamia Millia Islamia Alumni Association Shifa-Ur-Rehman was arrested and charged under the stringent law. Rehman was remanded to police custody by a Delhi court for 10 days for further investigation in the case.
Last week, the police booked former Jawaharlal Nehru University student Umar Khalid and Jamia Millia Islamia students Meeran Haider and Safoora Zargar under the UAPA. The students have also been booked for the offences of sedition, murder, attempt to murder, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion and rioting.
Haider and Zargar, arrested for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to incite the communal riots in February, are in judicial custody. Zargar is the media coordinator of the Jamia Coordination Committee, while Haider is a member of the panel. Haider, a PhD, is also the president of the Rashtriya Janata Dal’s youth wing in Delhi.
“This piece of intimidation comes in the wake of a long trail of similar acts of intimidation and arrests – especially targeting prominent voices in the movement to save India’s Constitution by opposing the CAA which together with the NPR and NRC work to strip poor and minority Indians of citizenship,” the AISA statement read.
The group cited a report in The Indian Express on the Delhi Police’s claims that it had collated evidence on the basis of WhatsApp chats of nine people. “...on the basis of which it had invoked UAPA against various students and activists, and was ‘exploring action against several members of the Popular Front of India, the Jamia Coordination Committee, Pinjra Tod, AISA as well as former and current students of Delhi University and JNU,” the statement added.
Clashes had broken out between the supporters of the Citizenship Amendment Act and those opposing it between February 23 and 26 in North East Delhi, killing 53 people and injuring hundreds. The police were accused of either inaction or complicity in some instances of violence, mostly in Muslim neighbourhoods. The violence was the worst Delhi saw since the anti-Sikh riots of 1984.